If you think that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) don’t affect you, then consider this. Up to 90% of all major US grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed, and can be used in human and animal foods without any safety testing or labeling to let us know what’s been used.
This includes GM corn (maize), soybeans, canola (a North American cultivar of oilseed rape), sugar beet and cotton, which have made their way into approximately 80% of current US grocery store items. Don’t know if you’re eating GMOs? If you’re not buying organically produced foods or growing your own vegetables and raising your own animals for food, you’re probably eating genetically modified ingredients in most of the foods you’re consuming today.
In Europe last week, officials ruled that the European Union’s constituent countries could not independently ban genetically modified crops. Paolo Mengozzi, legal adviser to the European Court of Justice, ruled that only the EU itself could institute such bans. France and five other EU countries have put a blanket ban on GMOs, citing safety concerns. “The French authorities could not suspend the cultivation of genetically modified maize (MON 810) on national territory without having first asked the European Commission to adopt emergency measures citing a risk to health and the environment,” said Mengozzi.
Last month, for the first time, European judges allowed GMOs in small amounts as contaminants in other crops – such as imported alfalfa (aka ‘lucerne’).
Monsanto’s MON 810 seed has been authorized for sale and cultivation in the EU’s 27 member states since 1998. The license for MON 810 is up for renewal this year, with pressure coming from both sides. The US has been putting pressure on the EU to accept the planting of GM crops from US-based companies. France, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece have all blocked GMOs.
MON 810 corn and the Amflora potato, developed by BASF, are the only GMO seeds approved for farming in the EU. Dozens of GMOs can, however, be imported. The US has been lobbying hard to get all GMO restrictions removed in Europe, considering it an issue of unfair trade (with GMOs making up 95% of US corn and soybean production, it limits what the US can export).
Scientific testing has not been done on what effects GMOs may have on humans. What has been shown is that GMO foods contain excessive amounts of certain toxins, the effects of which have not been determined. Genetically modified foods also negatively impact the environment by creating more toxins and potentially leading to the creation of mutated soil bacteria, which may lead to more harm regarding the future of food production.
The US Department of Agriculture statistics show that the majority of animal products produced in the US today that are raised on confined feed lots (aka ‘CAFOs’ – confined animal feeding operations), are fed with genetically modified feed, and are injected with genetically engineered hormones and vaccines.
Genetically modified foods are grown so that crops can withstand repeated, heavy application of weedkillers – and still survive and be turned into food. GMO crops were first introduced in the 1990s, and pesticide use has only increased – it hasn’t eliminated weeds or the need to reduce weeds. Instead, weeds have become stronger and our food has become more toxic.
US consumers are years behind in demanding the reversal of the use of GMOs. How safe do you feel knowing your government does not give you the right to choose which foods you will buy based on how they were grown?
Lack of truth in labeling takes away the consumer’s choice to eat or refuse foods grown with genetically modified ingredients – there is no requirement by the US government to label GMO foods.
Americans have the right to know what is in their food, and food labeling is the most basic of requirements for consumers to be able to make a real choice. Ask your federal, state, and local politicians to commit to truthful labeling and your right to know as a consumer by supporting mandatory GMO labels on all foods.